Melrose is voted the best place in Scotland to live

Melrose High Street, with its plethora of hotels and independent shops, was a big factor in The Sunday Times awarding the town the accolade of Best Place to Stay in Scotland.
Melrose High Street, with its plethora of hotels and independent shops, was a big factor in The Sunday Times awarding the town the accolade of Best Place to Stay in Scotland.

It’s certainly one of the most fascinating places to visit in the Borders, with its Roman fort, Cistercian abbey and its rugby sevens tournament.

But Melrose has now been named the best place to live in Scotland, by the Sunday Times newspaper.

1) The Melrose Sevens is one of the top sporting occasions of the year in Scotland and the Greenyards men are continually in the running for the top spot in the BT Premiership

1) The Melrose Sevens is one of the top sporting occasions of the year in Scotland and the Greenyards men are continually in the running for the top spot in the BT Premiership

See the feature on the Sunday Times website here

The news comes ahead of the full reveal in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide, which is published on Sunday, March 18.

The supplement assesses a wide range of factors, from jobs, schools and broadband speed to culture, community spirit and local shops, in order to compile the definitive top locations to live.

The methodology uses robust statistics, but also the knowledge of the newspaper’s expert panel. The judges said they combined the hard data with their own on-the-ground experience and insight to ensure the chosen locations truly are places where everyone can thrive.

Harmony House and gardens hosts one of the biggest and best book festivals in Scotland.

Harmony House and gardens hosts one of the biggest and best book festivals in Scotland.

Other towns which made the list include Wigtown, Orkney and the Black Isle, but Melrose came out on top.

Judges said: “It’s a country classic, with a beautiful setting in the Eildon hills, a dramatic ruined abbey and a handsome town centre of stone and pristine whitewash.

“For a town of just 1,700 people, there’s a huge selection of restaurants and shops, including a bakery spanning five generations, two great butchers, a fishmonger, a greengrocer, a deli and a wine shop.”

The award, however, comes as no real surprise to any who actually live there.

The abbey is a favourite with visitors, and it is a superb backdrop to have in your home town.

The abbey is a favourite with visitors, and it is a superb backdrop to have in your home town.

In fact, you get the impression they believe it’s just been an oversight before.

Douglas Hardie, president of the town’s very successful rugby club, said there were five main reasons Melrose is by far the best,

He said: “It’s down to a huge amount of people, like a big jigsaw. If all these people didn’t fit together like Melrose people do, it won’t work.

“We are very fortunate in that we have five claims to fame: we are the oldest continuously inhabited town in Scotland; we have Scott’s Abbotsford; we have the abbey, where Bruce’s heart is buried; we have the first masonic lodge; and, of course, the thing that is giving us most profile recently is that we are the founders of rugby sevens, which is now an Olympic and Commonwealth sport.

5) Trimontium is another ... the ancient Roman settlement attracts thousands of visitors.

5) Trimontium is another ... the ancient Roman settlement attracts thousands of visitors.

“The Melrose Sevens is the biggest sporting event in the south of Scotland and the biggest rugby event in Scotland, outside of Murrayfield. On the day the town is completely transformed.

“Online ticket sales for this year’s sevens have completely outstripped last year’s by 140% ... and last year was a record.”

And Mr Hardie had an idea why Melrose is able to keep its small shops thriving.

He said: “When I was with the traders; association, we always used to preach the shop local message, and it shows that it works.

“We also have a great range of restaurants and hotels in the Borders. Even on a week night, there are cars lining the streets.

“We have a great selection of properties to buy, and above all that, the people in the town are willing to give their time free of charge to keep community groups such as Melrose in Bloom running.”

Check out what judges had to say on www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/bestplacestolive. Non-subscribers can gain complimentary access to two articles a week when they enter an email address and register.

Readers can also join in the conversation online by sharing their favourite places and why they love them, using the hashtag #STbestplaces